The Band Plays On: Beyond the Empty Nest

For those of us who struggle to keep singing after the kids are grown and gone.

Susan Poole


Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

Music danced in my head for 20+ years.

Melodies swirled in my mind and swept me off my feet while song lyrics filled my home and fed my soul.

The familiar tracks varied from year to year.

  • Babies crying.
  • Siblings fighting.
  • Crowds roaring and friends calling.

Gradually and without warning, the music faded. The musicians peeled away, until one by one they disappeared for good.

  • To blaze their own trails.
  • Stake their own claims.
  • Live their own lives and create their own music.

The voices whisper from a distance — sometimes so faint I can barely hear it anymore.

I still listen for it. Keep my ears to the ground and wait for those faraway songs to include me, to invite me back in.

  • A phone call.
  • A visit.
  • Thank, God for holiday gatherings.

The slightest connection fills me up and renews my energy to days gone by — to when my house resonated with joy and laughter.

Thankfully, those moments sustain me through the next goodbye. Life’s orchestra plays on, noisy or not.

Of course, there were days when I craved silence and yearned for a more peaceful existence, a temporary reprieve.

But never like this.

Chaos outshines isolation and solitude any day, while loneliness deepens the void left by the missing harmony.

I try desperately to make my own music.

  • Turn on the television.
  • Read a book.
  • Busy my mind to distract myself from dwelling on how much I miss my kids.

Nothing does the trick entirely.

I mourn their daily absence — their voices, their dancing feet, and their loud and messy presence.

From time to time, reality kicks in. My attention drifts to what I cannot hear. Beyond the deafening silence, I appreciate the calm. I feel grateful for life without nearby gunfire, overhead missiles, random acts of violence, or the uncertainty of knowing where my loved ones are.

My kids may be grown and gone, but they’re healthy….and safe….and a text message away.

  • Perspective received.
  • Attitude adjusted.
  • Prayers set free in the universe to anyone who needs them.

My musical years are not lost. They’re part of me. I carry them with me everywhere I go.

I’m lucky, blessed, and ready to sing again — with or without someone around to listen.



Susan Poole

Mother, lawyer, nonprofit executive, breast cancer survivor, and aspiring author. Recently left her day-job to write about topics that she’s passionate about.